Sink plot for runoff measurements on semi-flat terrains: preliminary data and their potential hydrological and ecological implications

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In arid and semiarid regions where water is the main limiting factor, water redistribution is regarded as an important hydrological process of great ecological value. By providing additional water to certain loci, moist pockets of great productivity are formed, characterized by high plant biomass and biological activity. These moist pockets are often a result of runon. Yet, although runoff may take place on semi-flat undulating surfaces, runoff measurements are thus far confined to slopes, where a sufficient gradient facilitates downslope water harvesting. On undulating surfaces of mounds and depressions, such as in interdunes, no quantification of the amount of water reaching depressions is feasible due to the fact that no reliable method for measuring the runoff amounts in semi-flat terrains is available. The current paper describes specific runoff plots, designed to measure runoff in depressions (sinks). These plots, termed sink plots (SPs), were operative in the Hallamish dunefield (Negev Desert, Israel). The paper presents measurements of runoff yield that were carried out between January 2013 and January 2014 on SPs and compared them to runoff obtained from crusted slope plots and fine-grained (playa) surfaces. The potential hydrological and ecological implications of water redistribution within semi-flat terrains for this and other arid ecosystems are discussed.

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